A Child Awaits

October 22, 2009 by  
Filed under Personal Development

Now I am all set to meet my first child. Here is what happened since my last blog. Everyone who does this volunteer work with foster kids has to spend time helping with kids who are waiting to go to court. I shadowed a long time volunteer and escorted kids to court for hearings about their status – some had been there before and for some it was the first time. There are so many stories and the way that kids approach this ordeal is so different.


For instance, there were two sisters, one about nine, the other around 13.  They had been in the system for a while, living with an aunt. Through their social worker they told the judge that they didn’t want to see their adoption social worker (they were happy where they were) and they didn’t want to come to court next time (they are both good students and didn’t want to miss school). They seem to have adjusted to having been taken out of their home. On the other side of the spectrum was a boy, about 16, whom the judge had seen quite a bit. He had major attitude, wouldn’t talk, or even look at me as I brought him to the courtroom. The judge was angry with him for not going to summer school and was fairly blunt with him. Obviously, he hadn’t adjusted well. But is it his fault? Who knows what his situation is like.

I saw one family get their two girls back amidst merriment and tears. I met a 17-year old boy who had been in the system for about 8 years, knows he wants to be a massage therapist and seemed to be taking it all in stride.

After working with the kids, I went to see my supervisor to read about my first case. She had already explained over the phone that this is sort of an unusual – and difficult – case and asked if I would mind taking such a case. “We used to have a special group of volunteers for this kind of child,” she had said. Gulp…. Reading the files, I understood what she meant. This child, an eight-year-old girl had been in the system for a short time. Her mother was found wondering the streets, taking her two daughters from one short-term motel to the next. They were both sick when the social workers intervened and they were taken away from the mother. The mother had a long history of mental illness and had at times been catatonic. The father had a rap sheet – drug arrests, DUIs – two pages long.  The girl, my girl, had been at turns violent and defiant in the group home where she was brought and then quiet and non-communicative.

The girl, who was put into a residential therapeutic facility because of her behavior is on slew of psychotropic drugs and is still acting out. It is hard to know, at this point, whether the drugs are helping or hurting. That is part of my job, to try to sort that out. The rest of it is to make sure that the system is working for this child and doing the best for her that it can.

After that meeting, I switched gears and took my daughter to the east coast to look at colleges. New England was a riot of reds, yellows and oranges, with the changing of the leaves; and I savored this time… it is sort of strange how, as a parent, you help your child find the best place for her self so that she can leave. It is nothing if not bittersweet.

The weekend I came back to town there was an article in the Los Angeles Times about two foster children who had died. One committed suicide and the other was murdered. I don’t think they had a volunteer like me on their case. I found myself wondering if their lives would have been different if they had. And my resolve to help my girl turned to steel. A few days later, I met with my supervisor again. Now I am officially on the case and I need to start calling people. I’ll be back once I have met my child….

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